Kentucky law enforcement training used video with Nazi symbol



A graphic of the state of Kentucky with a presentation being presented. The word HATE is in bold. Graphic by guest contributor, James Jean-Marie.

An online training used in 2020 by a Kentucky state law enforcement training agency features a Nazi symbol in a clip from an anti-Semitic video produced by a neo-Nazi media company. 

The Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) created the online training which requires watching a six-minute video. The full video, which is not included in the training, alleges that the Jewish people caused the American opioid crisis, that Las Vegas casinos are “run by Jewish gangsters” and that in Hollywood, Jewish people “are endlessly glorified among other mind-control agendas working hand-in-hand with the U.S. government.”

An anonymous source who works in law enforcement alerted Manual RedEye to the existence of the clip after RedEye published a story about a Kentucky State Police (KSP) training that quoted Hitler three times and featured the Nazi phrase “über alles.” KSP used Hitler-quoting trainings during at least two years and trainings that quoted Robert E. Lee and instructing cadets to be “ruthless killer[s]” for at least 10 years, resulting in Commissioner Rodney Brewer’s resignation.

Screen recording provided by anonymous source shows the video as part of a DOCJT training.

The clip used in the DOCJT training video includes the logo of the company behind the video, a sonnenrad or “Black Sun” Nazi symbol, but does not contain the overtly anti-Semitic or racist content found in the full video. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the sonnenrad symbol is popular among white supremacists and was appropriated and used by the Nazis. 

In Nazi Germany, the design prominently appeared as a floor mosaic in a castle used to train members of the SS after being remodeld by Heinrich Himmler.

The training was approved in August 2020 according to documents from an open records request and was launched in September according to DOCJT.  Two instructors are listed as having compiled the training on different forms, but neither could be reached for comment. [Editor: Both forms can be viewed at the bottom of this article.]

The video featured in the state law enforcement training is titled “America’s Manufactured Opioid Crisis: The Hidden History of Heroin Pushers.” The documentary-style video contains portions that pretend to provide credible historical information before becoming infused with anti-Semitic tropes and false claims of Jewish conspiracies approximately six minutes into the half-hour film.

“While some old-school Italian mafiosos may have had some objections to selling heroin, Jewish gangsters did not. Jews at the time dominated the drug business in New York,” the full video says about thirty seconds after the DOCJT clip ends.

DOCJT and Justice and Safety Department spokespeople said they removed the training after discovering it as a result of RedEye’s open records request.

“The website and source of the video is completely offensive and unacceptable,” a statement from DOCJT reads in part. “DOCJT is conducting an internal investigation to determine how this video came to be used in the training.”

In a statement to RedEye, Governor Andy Beshear reiterated that the training had been removed.

The image used at the beginning of the six-minute video clip is offensive and absolutely unacceptable. This image should never have been part of any training video on drug addiction,” Beshear said.

The governor’s office and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet are continuing a review of all “current and former training materials,” he stated, making it unclear which departments’ materials they would review. Previously, Beshear had only specified that all Kentucky State Police trainings would be reviewed.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron provided a short statement about the training. 

“This is very concerning and I’m glad to see that the DOCJT removed the material from the training and is looking into how this occurred,” Cameron wrote. 

DOCJT is a department of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and is headed by Commissioner Nicolai Jilek, who previously led the Louisville Fraternal Order of Police. It operates a law enforcement academy in Richmond which trains recruits from across the state. DOCJT provides accredited law enforcement training to an average of 18,000 Kentucky officers annually. Jilek’s name appears on a “Curriculum Development Form” that details the contents of the training.

Representative John Yarmuth said this training was more evidence of “systemic racism throughout law enforcement.”

“I know the head of that academy,” Yarmuth continued, “and unfortunately they have the history of protecting their own even when there’s wrongdoing. I think Mr. Jilek has a lot to answer for, and it’s got to come from the highest levels.”

KSP, LMPD and departments in Lexington and Bowling Green run separate academies, but the rest of the state’s law enforcement officers attend DOCJT training. DOCJT also provides continuing education classes to all law enforcement departments within the state. The “Response to Drug Epidemic” training in which the clip is included is an online training for 911 dispatchers.

A comparison of the Nazi sonnenrad and the logo in the DOCJT training video.
A comparison of the Nazi sonnenrad and the logo in the DOCJT training video. Graphic by Akhila Nadimpalli.

Robert Slosberg, the rabbi at the Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, found information about the training “beyond disturbing.” 

“This is a shocking development,” Slosberg wrote in an email. “An intensive examination of the criminal justice training system is in order.” 

The company that created the video used by DOCJT has produced additional videos denying the Holocaust and supporting Hitler and the Nazis. Its founder, Kyle Hunt, organized a “White Man’s March” against “white genocide” in 2014.

Hunt assisted the late Robert Ransdall in his 2014 write-in campaign for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. Ransdall held leadership positions in the neo-Nazi groups National Alliance and National Alliance Reform and Restoration Group and his campaign featured the slogan “With Jews We Lose!” Hunt registered and maintained Ransdall’s campaign website and featured him on several of his radio shows.

The film is posted on Hunt’s company’s website, Youtube and BitChute — a site known for accommodating far-right and conspiratorial content — but it does not show up as a top search result on Google when searching for videos on the history of the drug epidemic.

The company is white supremacist, for example posting an article saying that Black Americans have “innate savagery and violent temperament.”

Infiltration of law enforcement by hate groups has recently received attention from Congress and the media.

“For decades, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has routinely warned its agents that the white supremacist and far-right militant groups it investigates often have links to law enforcement,” said Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School during testimony to Congress in September. “Yet the Justice Department has no national strategy designed to protect the communities policed by these dangerously compromised law enforcers.” 

A 2019 report by Reveal found that almost 400 law enforcement officers nationwide were known to be part of online hate groups. In an email to RedEye, the authors of the article confirmed that four of these officers identified were in Kentucky. The list of hate groups that these four are a part of is long, including “Veterans Against Islamic Filth” and “Confederate Brothers and Sisters.”

The four Kentucky law enforcement officers is likely a fraction of the number of law enforcement officers in the state actively involved in online hate groups. “We examined a tiny sample of what exists on Facebook — what Megan Squire, a computer science professor from Elon University in North Carolina, called ‘a tiny, postage-stamp-sized window into Facebook’s skyscraper of data,’” according to the original Reveal article.

A U.S. House subcommittee held a hearing in September to examine white supremacist influence on law enforcement. Subcommittee Chairman Jeremy Raskin called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, “to rid law enforcement communities of officers who have white supremacist affiliations or subscribe to white supremacists beliefs.”

Yarmuth supports the act, which the House of Representatives passed in June, but he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Class of 1960) was not prioritizing the bill for a Senate vote. McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

KSP presented trainings that quoted Hitler to at least two classes, but KSP found no internal complaints about it in response to an open records request. The DOCJT video was reported to RedEye, but only after it was approved and launched.

Yarmuth finds this toleration of racism, like the video which he called “despicable” and “heartbreaking,” to be unacceptable.

“Obviously not every police officer is a racist, but there’s this culture that at least tolerates it and turns a blind eye to it,” Yarmuth said. “You can’t excuse good cops if they turn a blind eye toward racism among their colleagues.”

This story was completed with information from Reveal’s Reporting Networks.

Cooper Walton also contributed to this story.